In 1982 members of the Swedish T. T. A. led by Hans Westling, instigated the first 'unofficial' World Veterans T.T. Championships. This incorporated events for over 40s, over 50s, over 60s and over 70s. It is recorded that 46 English players played in Gothenburg capturing 2 gold, 2 silver and 5 bronze medals. It was also agreed that the World Championships would be continued every two years in a different country. The players who attended the first tournament enjoyed the camaraderie and atmosphere so much that it made them think of the many older players in the UK who would enjoy such friendship and competition. At that time this was only being catered for by the English Table Tennis Association (ETTA) incorporating an over 40s event in the normal tournament competitions.
In 1983 Mike Watts, who later became VETTS President until his untimely death in 2001, produced an article called "The 'VETERAN' Scene" in which he set out ideas for discussion on table tennis for the older player, which was sent round to interested parties. Over 150 players responded positively to the article. The inaugural meeting of the Society was held on 15 January 1984 with 35 attendees and 20 apologies. The first committee was formed with Secretary: Mike Watts, Chairman: Derek Schofield, and Treasurer: Bill Moran. The initial terms of reference and objectives were as follows, and are still adhered to.
To form an Association for Veteran Players of all standards with the object of promoting friendship and competition amongst players throughout the country.
- To promote and organise the following championships each season – National Championships involving over 40, over 50, over 60 and over 70 events Regional Championships with similar events covering the whole of the country Other competitions as may be required by the membership and agreed by the committee
- To organise dinner dances at all tournaments
- To promote other social activities
- To endeavour to maintain ranking/rating lists as required
- The Society shall be in Good Standing with the ETTA
Since that day the Society has gone from strength to strength. The current membership stands at over 900, with members ranging in age from 40 to 99! Membership costs £15 a year, and a very successful 200 club provides additional funds to help keep the costs down. VETTS also has its own kit with bespoke shirts and hoodies for members. The first VETTS National Championships were held in Watford in May 1984 with 99 entrants. The following season three Regional Tournaments, Midland, Southern and Northern, were added to the schedule. Later additions included the Eastern, Western and North-Eastern tournaments, mirroring the schedule today.
An additional Rating tournament is held on the weekend of the Annual General Meeting. Such is the popularity of the weekends - the society needs to find venues to accommodate up to 36 tables for play, as more than 250 players regularly enter, which is a great dilema to have!!!
Alternate years see the hosting of the European Veterans and World Veterans Championships, with the 2018 World Championships being hosted in Las Vegas. This will see a contingent of c.150 members heading to the US for a week on table tennis and an active social side!
If you think this is for you, membership only costs £15 per annum. Please visit our membership page for more details!